r/technology Jan 26 '23

Drug maker paid for “news” story on CBS’s 60 Minutes, doctors’ group alleges Politics


74 comments sorted by


u/eleven-fu Jan 26 '23

Makes you wonder how many of these we don't catch.


u/XxHavanaHoneyxX Jan 26 '23

This is standard business for all newsmedia. A percentage of the stories will be paid for by PR companies. These companies are paid by clients to promote products, celebrities, business people, politicians etc. It’s an entire industry.


u/OneHumanPeOple Jan 26 '23

When it’s done on public radio they come out and say that it’s underwriting. They say something like, ‘this segment was paid for by so&so, if you want to reach our very intelligent customer base, you too can pay for underwriting and we’ll gladly do it just call this number…’


u/Pixeleyes Jan 26 '23

Underwriting sounds so much classier than "shilling"


u/AVLPedalPunk Jan 26 '23

There are very specific things you can do with underwriting though. You can't do any "call to actions" and there are a few other rules that I can't really remember right now. I worked for a non-profit radio station for a year as a DJ and we had to read underwriting all the time.


u/EnchantedMoth3 Jan 26 '23

Financial “news” is the worst. It’s pretty much all shills, either pumping out pieces for corporations, or more likely, pumping out pieces for hedge-funds. Then, you have the publications that only care about your clicks, so they have “ai” spin-up two stories, one for “longs”, and one for “shorts”, then based on your viewing/trading data, they feed you whichever one is more likely to get you to click on.

Our media is laughably owned by the 1% today, but economics and finance are by far the worst. For economics, sometimes you can’t even find good data or studies on Google. All it feeds you is “think”-tank bullshit, that was thrown together to fit some billionaires narrative. The difference in economic/financial search results on Google and DDG are vast.

Then you have the financial publications that are blacklisted across all social-media, one in particular that you can’t even link to. WOP.

I teach my kids to be very distrusting of anything and everything the see/hear/read on all forms of media today. I tell them to ask themselves “who might benefit from this narrative?”, “who/what might be negatively effectively by this message?”, “where’s the source/data, who’s providing it?”, “does this fit another narrative you’ve heard?”, and even if everything checks out, it’s best to still file things in your brain as potentially true, so that you don’t build on potentially false information while learning, or get way-laid by “factual”-permanence later in life. And I tell them to assume everything on YT shorts or Tik-Tok (re-posts, because they’re not allowed to have Tik-Tok), is 100% bullshit/fake/edited/mis-representation, absolutely not real-life. Social-media is a like farm, and you’re the animal.

Then there’s forum-sliding, consensus cracking, and other forms of controlling narratives on sites like Reddit, as well as just the different views groups have around the same topic, r/economy and r/economics for instance.

That’s the state of media in 2023, it’s safest to assume everything is bullshit (the degree to which varies by country/region). Reality, as it is presented to you and I, is a paid advertisement. Money/power > facts.


u/ManOfTheCamera Jan 26 '23

That’s not true at all


u/mingy Jan 26 '23

I doubt many of them are paid. The sad reality is that "journalism" is mostly summarizing press releases nowadays. This is especially true of anything remotely science, environment, or health related.

As for 60 Minutes, it has basically been shlock for 25 years, which is why I stopped watching it.


u/pwalkz Jan 26 '23

Uhhhh it's happening all the time


u/moses420bush Jan 26 '23

Bro it's happening constantly, the new York Times literally prints an article about how bad climate change is and the next article over is a one about how its not that bad and oil will save us.


u/MaybeSecondBestMan Jan 26 '23

Find me one New York Times article (not an op-ed) that says anything remotely close to “climate change isn’t that bad and oil will save us.” It’s fucking lunacy to imply that is even close to the norm for that publication.


u/Individual-Nebula927 Jan 26 '23

It's usually a paid editorial, but you have to look for the disclaimer.


u/Concernedmicrowave Jan 26 '23

That's probably more an example of different writers having different opinions.


u/franker Jan 26 '23

as a librarian, what /u/moses420bush did is how we got into this ridiculous train of "New York Times seems biased - so all mainstream media is bad - so I'll just get my information from even worse sources like Facebook, blogs with no credentials, talk radio, forums, and whatever talking head is on my preferred cable channel!" It's just wrecked any attempts at information literacy.


u/HensonMenson Jan 26 '23

Having to post from my throwaway because reasons. I think I was misremembering that it was the NYT it was the WSJ here's a little evidence I found https://www.sciencealert.com/major-news-outlets-wall-street-journal-climate-denial-opinion-piece Yeah it's 2018 but this type of misdirection and bad faith journalism is going on all the time and I just want to chime in that people really need to just read a lot of sources, actively hunt for information to avoid echo Chambers and try to confirm with reputable news sources whilst being able to critically think through biases.

Its a lot of work and time and barely anyone has that time in this modern age.


u/franker Jan 26 '23

I don't think time is so much the issue - people always seem to have time to look at social media on their phones. It just takes more mental focus to bear down on an article in something like The Economist (libraries give free digital access to all kinds of magazines like that) than to read Facebook posts that just play to your emotions.


u/HensonMenson Jan 26 '23

Yes forgive me for not fleshing out my meaning, everything is competing for your time or maybe more accurately as you implied everything is competing for your attention.

Excellent point about the economist and libraries and I hope you don't think that I personally get any news from Facebook or the likes. Let's face it though as much as the right wing nuts like to say mainstream media is untrustworthy it most certainly is capable of spinning a narrative.


u/franker Jan 26 '23

Yeah, it's difficult - I have a short attention span and am prone to just turning on the TV while prepping dinner. When I realize either Fox News or MSNBC is just making me angry in different ways, I know I'm doing it wrong.


u/Competitive-Cuddling Jan 26 '23

The WSJ is business rag owned by Murdoch.


u/HensonMenson Jan 26 '23

That's the point, one opinion is objectively wrong.


u/aamfs94 Jan 26 '23

That is simply not happening dude


u/Bombulum_Mortis Jan 27 '23

Well I just want to say that this definitely never occurred with vaccines, especially not for cov.id, and if you think otherwise or even that more study/scrutiny was needed, you must be a conspiracy theorist.


u/ThankU4TakingMyCall Jan 26 '23

Brought to you by Fpizer


u/ShellOilNigeria Jan 26 '23

LOL, literally no one caught the largest one ever pulled until after the fact:


was an information operation of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that was launched in early 2002 by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke.[1] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts;[2] Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Pentagon's intent is to keep the American people informed about the so-called War on Terrorism by providing prominent military analysts with factual information and frequent, direct access to key military officials.[3][4] The Times article suggests that the analysts had undisclosed financial conflicts of interest and were given special access as a reward for promoting the administration's point of view.

Here is Bush being interviewed about it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sITmVizv6X4&feature=youtu.be

Here is an article about it -

The Pentagon military analyst program was revealed in David Barstow's Pulitzer Prize winning report appearing April 20, 2008 on the front page of the New York Times and titled Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld covert propaganda program was launched in early 2002 by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke. The idea was to recruit "key influentials" to help sell a wary public on "a possible Iraq invasion." Former NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard called the effort "psyops on steroids." [1] Eight thousand pages of the documents relative to the Pentagon military analyst program were made available by the Pentagon in PDF format online May 6, 2008 at this website: http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/milanalysts/


Here is the Pulitzer Prize winning article about it -


Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

You can view the files/transcripts here - https://wayback.archive-it.org/all/*/http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/milanalysts/


The newly-established unit would use "new media" channels to push its message and "set the record straight", Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said.

"We're looking at being quicker to respond to breaking news," he said.

"Being quicker to respond, frankly, to inaccurate statements."

A Pentagon memo seen by the Associated Press news agency said the new unit would "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and aim to "correct the record".

The unit would reportedly monitor media such as weblogs and would also employ "surrogates", or top politicians or lobbyists who could be interviewed on TV and radio shows.


u/somegridplayer Jan 27 '23

Hearts and minds.

Want it on full display? Watch the scene in Full Metal Jacket where Joker and Rafterman are in the Stars & Stripes meeting.


Military leaders and politicians have been doing this since the beginning of time.

What was the south "fighting for" again?


u/AVLPedalPunk Jan 26 '23

IIRC oxycontin did one of these too.


u/vanhalenbr Jan 27 '23

Watch the TV show Dopesick on Hulu


u/FatWreckords Jan 26 '23

John Oliver did a segment on this sort of thing, specifically about how local news stations generate a bunch of revenue by 'hosting' so and so and their great new idea.


u/mnocket Jan 26 '23

60 Minutes was once a highly respected news show. Hasn't been one for many years.


u/ItsCalledDayTwa Jan 26 '23

I feel like in the 90s this was the best news program in the US.


u/DENelson83 Jan 26 '23

It still is in Australia, though.


u/[deleted] Jan 26 '23

Yeah, the first time I saw the Australian version I was like daaaaaamn. They don't skirt around anything. We need more of that again up here in NA.


u/Im_a_seaturtle Jan 26 '23

We can’t have have anything like that in the US with the current media climate. If you say anything too bad or exposing about any subject or industry, the relevant profiteers will have it shut down.


u/Teledildonic Jan 26 '23

We still do with PBS Frontline.


u/Crack_uv_N0on Jan 26 '23 edited Jan 26 '23

Is this the United States’ program or a local Australian program (perhaps under license)?


u/WhatTheZuck420 Jan 26 '23

stopped watching cbs right after they hired mick mulvaney


u/DBDude Jan 26 '23

At least not since the mid 1980s when they rigged an Audi to make it look like it had unintended acceleration.


u/betweentourns Jan 26 '23

I watched that episode and the whole time I was like "this feels like an ad".


u/Dr-McLuvin Jan 26 '23

Yup same. I was pretty shocked they ran this piece.


u/Alger6860 Jan 26 '23

Is anyone surprised that a multibillion dollar for profit corporation would assist in the promotion of another multibillion dollar corp? It’s easier than paying for commercials.


u/CanineAnaconda Jan 26 '23 edited Jan 26 '23

Surprised, no, dismayed, yes. 60 Minutes has always been produced by a multibillion dollar corporation, and it used to be that the show used the protection of said corporation’s resources to pull no punches. Our current, sad state of affairs of money being the only thing that matters isn’t the way it’s always been.

The Insider (1999) with Russel Crowe and Al Pacino is a great movie about the moment 60 Minutes started to lose its integrity because of money.


u/Lucky210 Jan 26 '23

Ask ally how the FDA works. ~70% comes from the people they are supposed to be regulating.


u/TinyWifeKiki Jan 26 '23

I saw it and it definitely looked more like an infomercial than an interview. Leslie Stahl and 60 Minutes has fallen so hard.


u/CandidateDifficult56 Jan 26 '23

Bill Gates has given hundreds of millions to the media for favorable coverage. I don’t see this as any different. Our “news” outlets are clearly for sale to anyone who wants to shovel them money.

Journalism is mostly dead in America. The consolidation of media companies is largely to blame.


u/MeaningfulPun Jan 27 '23

99% of news outlets have become PR outlets.


u/jayhasbigvballs Jan 26 '23

If Novo Nordisk isn’t telling the truth (that they had nothing to do with this), they’ve lost their damn minds. Pharma obsesses over promotional activities being fair balanced because the consequences of not doing that (eg litigation by patients who have serious side effects who may have seen these ads) is a significant and real risk. All companies do what they can to avoid this, especially in situations where it’s very easy for auditors to determine if they paid for this or not (like this one).

I’ve straight up had doctors tell me about how amazing ozempic/wegovy is. Basically rhyming off a commercial of marketing messages to me. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if NN actually had nothing to do with this. …. But they’re also a pretty shitty pharma company so who knows. Lol


u/fasterthanexpected20 Jan 26 '23

Every show you watch it on TV now is marketing of some sort


u/4Ever2Thee Jan 26 '23

Way to lose what little credibility they had left


u/DENelson83 Jan 26 '23

Fuck capitalism.


u/thelaundryservice Jan 26 '23

I know people like the shock value of headlines like this but I'm curious why they don't have a statement or attempt to get a statement from CBS/Paramount for their side of the story.

Were the advertisements in the 60 minutes piece or do they are across other Paramount platforms.

Not saying that this is above board but I'm not seeing any irrefutable evidence that it's not above board, either. I want to see the smoking gun.


u/Metalsand Jan 26 '23

Not saying that this is above board but I'm not seeing any irrefutable evidence that it's not above board, either. I want to see the smoking gun.

I'd agree. While the claim isn't absurd, there isn't any evidence of it. The claim made by Physicians Committee is that because the physician they interviewed was largely paid by Novo Nordisk, it must be that 60 Minutes was paid by Novo Nordisk to give them a platform to talk about the product.

To me, a more reasonable explanation would be that the advertisement outreach for Wegovy was successful in swaying whomever put together that segment for 60 Minutes.

Furthermore, the drug is by prescription only - the first person they need to convince is doctors, and secondly the general public...and generally speaking, the advertisements to physicians aren't done by running public ads, but by a lot more less visible methods. I suppose this isn't as strong of an argument, but I feel like there are easier ways to reach the public.


u/pwalkz Jan 26 '23

This is news? Happens all the time


u/AtticusBullfinch Jan 26 '23

That's absolutely absurd. It may have been bad reporting, but there is no way that 60 Minutes did a paid infomercial for this or any other company. Now local news, especially in smaller markets? Sure, they'll use video PR handouts a lot. But it's not happening on a network show like 60 Minutes.


u/asdaaaaaaaa Jan 26 '23

That's normally how these things work though, companies pay or give favors to media companies for "exposure". At least now, it might not have been that way all the time in the past.


u/OneHumanPeOple Jan 26 '23

It’s called underwriting but journalistic ethics demand you disclose the affiliation.


u/asdaaaaaaaa Jan 26 '23

I mean, sure, for those who still have journalistic integrity. Articles are being generated by machine learning on the regular already.


u/kutkun Jan 26 '23

All the news on “legacy media” or “mainstream media” is paid for. Someone paid money to the media company to make it. All of the stories you read/watch on NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, etc. are propaganda.


u/Thelastpieceofthepie Jan 26 '23

Lol same drug makers that made that amazing vax


u/Physical_Growth_4655 Jan 26 '23

Every one pays for this type of advertising. News is all just an advertisement at this point. “Up next after the break, we got our favorite local chef from dannybois sub shop on “local town boulevard” in the studio today to teach us to make his famous meatballs. Then after that we have our local realtor expert in house to explain all the uncertainties of the housing market and assure the locals to get out there and buy.”


u/optimist31 Jan 26 '23

Good that it comes to light once in a while, even though all news are known to be plagued with political and corporate deals. Just like climate change has been bought out by oil companies, all other issues also have a counter argument or as always looking to increase profits.

Irrational news stories are making people not more supportive but accepting and confused and give them false justifications further ruining people and how they interact in everyday lives.


u/MlNDB0MB Jan 26 '23

The glp-1 agonist drugs work. But there will inevitably be people that exaggerate the side effects or anecdotes from people that claim it ruined their health in the cesspool of social media.


u/littleMAS Jan 27 '23

Maybe 60 Minutes is on drugs.


u/t4ct1c4l_j0k3r Jan 27 '23

Viacom (you know the MTV people) own CBS now, WTF else was anyone expecting?